Newborn Sleeps with Mouth Open – Should You Be Worried ?

Who can resist watching a newborn sleeping? I love to gaze and smell her breath when my newborn sleeps with mouth open.

For me, those were precious moments that were well recorded in my memory. As a mother, I thought for an instant about the possibility of her having difficulty in breathing.

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Was there a defect in her capability to use her nose? I have observed my newborn every single day doing her mouth breathing trying to see if there really is something amiss. I guess it was a relief on my part to see her outgrow the breathing through her mouth.

But why does she do that? What is the impact?

Let us find out why newborn sleeps with mouth open and clarify the questions that made us worried and has been boggling the minds of mothers until now.

Why does newborn sleep with mouth open?

As I have found out, there are certain reasons why newborns sleep with mouth open. Whatever it might be it is essential that we know all about it.

• Newborn breathes through their mouth if they have difficulty in breathing, thus the mouth breathing when they sleep. Newborns with colds often do this.

​• When they were still inside the womb, their nose was usually blocked with mucus. They will continue to be oral breathers until they clear the mucus out. It takes time clearing it out and usually it differs between newborn on how long.

​• Allergies are one of the common cause of breathing through the mouth. Newborn tends to sleep with open mouth when they are ill with chronic or severe congestion.

​• Deviated Septum - there are a bone and cartilage between both sides of the nose. If this collapse, it deviates inside the nose. It makes it hard for the newborn to use nasal breathing. You will see that she will use mouth respiration.

​• Tongue Tie - an abnormality of the frenum makes newborns unable to make their tongue touch the roof of the mouth. Newborns with this abnormality always sleep with mouth open and have difficulty in feeding. This is also true with other tongue abnormalities.

​• Continuous pacifier usage or the habit to suck thumb

​Prolonged use of pacifier from newly born babies and the habit of thumb sucking hinders the tongue to its proper position. If not stopped at the proper time, it will cause the natural ability of the tongue to find its place on the roof of the mouth.

What are the effects of Newborns sleeping with an open mouth?

The Truth: Nope! A newborn that sleeps with mouth open is not natural. They may look cute, but ponder on this!

​I have always thought that it is normal and safe for my newborn to sleep with open mouth. But there are certain effects to your newborns. I am going to share with you these facts so you will be aware of it right now!

Fact #1 : In normal condition, the tongue touches the roof of the mouth during sleeping.

This position will counteract other muscle forces of the mouth that will lead to normal facial development.

However, if your newborn is a mouth breather, the tongue will rest on the floor part of the mouth. It encourages the growth of the upper jaw, instead of the lower jaw.

If newborns who sleep with mouth open is continually being ignored by parents or caretakers, this will be the effects:

  • Forward head posture
  • Long and narrow face
  • Flattened nose that is small and underdeveloped
  • Shorter upper lip
  • Underdeveloped upper arch of the mouth leading to : Crowding of the teeth and smaller jaw.

Fact #2 : Increase in viral and bacterial infections due to dry mouth

​If babies have difficulty breathing using their nose, she most likely takes in cold, dry air through her mouth. If the mouth is dry, and the lips are chapped, bacteria can easily get hold and cause problems. “Dry membranes are easy to invade.”


Fact #3 : Behavioral Problems - Newborn oral breathers have trouble breathing normally through the nose. This is greatly affecting the flow of oxygen into the brain distracting the restorative process of sleep. It gives problem-related to parts of the brain controlling the capability to focus, control behavior and balance emotions.

Note : “For newborns, sleeping is a critical period in brain development. It must not be interrupted.”


Fact #4 : Snoring - with the conditions mentioned above, it is natural that snoring will occur. Any obstruction of air passing through the back of the mouth results to snoring. If above problems are treated, snoring will be too


Fact #5 : Speech problem - when your newborn continues to sleep with mouth open, when they grow up, they will have a difficulty in saying “S” or the lips problem. Mouth breathers cause “tongue thrust swallowing pattern” that causes the tongue to protrude, during talking and swallowing.

How will I know if my newborn is a mouth breather?

I have learned too late about this newborn conditions. Yet, good news for you! As early as now, you can prevent it. I know that obviously, sleeping with mouth open is a sure sign of mouth breathing but there are situations considered temporary for the baby to do so.

Important: “The main concern is; you need to keep her from making it a habit.”

First, try to check if your newborn displays sign of a mouth breather :

1. Sleeping with open mouth - the obvious sign that a baby is breathing using mouth.

2. Feeding time - The best way to know that your baby is a mouth breather is feeding time. If she needs to stop from sucking just to catch her breath, your baby is definitely a mouth breather.

3. Noisy Breathing Even in Sleep - when your newborn is perfectly healthy, her breathing should be quiet. When you can hear noise during her breathing, it is a warning that there is something wrong. This goes true also while your baby is noisily sleeping with mouth open.

What can you do to stop your newborn from sleeping with mouth open?

You are now well informed about the causes and the effects of newborn sleeping with mouth open. Now, it is about time to do something about it. The earlier to react, the better it is for your newborn.

How to stop your newborn to make this a habit?

​• Make sure that your newborn can comfortably breathe using the nose. If she has a cold or stuffy nose, or any cause of nasal congestion gives her immediate remedy to heal it quickly.

​• Be vigilant in knowing what your baby is allergic of. Allergies force babies to breathe using the mouth. Avoid those allergens.

​• Monitor your newborn’s habit of sleeping with open mouth. If you can’t identify any breathing problem, then there is no alarm in closing her mouth. Gently push her chin upward to close her mouth. Do this as often as you can. It will hinder her from forming this as a habit.

​• As early as possible, ask a doctor who is an expert in breathing and sleep. He can do a study of your baby’s breathing and sleeping pattern. He can help you what to do medically.

​• Use a room humidifier at home. It will help your baby the discomfort of mouth drying.

​• You can start introducing to your baby the different kinds of scent. At an early age, she will learn what her nose is there for.

​• Slightly elevate your newborn’s head when sleeping. This works well when she has problems with breathing.

Why is it important to breathe through the nose?

No need to discuss further that nasal breathing is the most natural thing to do for us.

Why so?

  • It increases the oxygen absorption capacity of the lungs
  • Nasal breathing cleanses harmful microbes and other impurities.
  • The increased oxygen the body gets is the reason for high energy and vitality.
  • Inhaling air through nose makes it warm and moist preventing irritation to the sensitive airways.
  • Controls the amount of air we breathe and accurately matches the oxygen the body needs.
  • Increases the sense of smell.
  • Gives pressure difference between the lungs and the nose. It makes sure air flows to the heart and lungs.

We have managed to find out the cause of why our newborn sleeps with mouth open. It was a relief to know that we still have the time to stop the effects it causes. Happy are the parents who knew that these effects can be fixed as well.

I hope that our article today has been a great help to mothers out there who are not aware of how harmful it can be when the baby sleeps with open mouth. Mouth respiration is a great help when the situation needs it but keeping it a habit will bring a lot of consequences.

​Keep this in mind: “Our nose is there for a reason!

Stacy Belk
 

My name is Stacy Belk, I am a nurse, midwife and mother of two children. I would like to share my experiences in taking care of children including activities to do together, recipes to cook, good products to buy and health protection to your family. Do a search now if you like, all you need is here.

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